Manhattan, during Hurricane Sandy
During one of the 2011 GOP presidential debates sponsored by CNN, Mitt Romney argued that the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be disbanded and replaced by handing over the responsibility to the states to deal with their own emergencies.
Here’s what the Republican candidate had to say when asked whether FEMA should be shut down:
“Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?”
When moderator, John King, responded “Including disaster relief, though?”, Mitt Romney had this to say—
“We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids.It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.
“Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions. As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA."
-Statement by Romney spokesman Ryan Williams
Mitt Romney recognizes this, probably a little too late. When the world seems like it's drowning, the last thing anyone wants or needs is a "government so small it can drown in a bathtub." Chris Christie, Republican governor of New Jersey, is another temporary convert to the warm embrace of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He has requested aid to New Jersey from FEMA, and now cares absolutely nothing about austerity or budget balancing. Christie has stated "Nobody was asking about offsetting budget cuts in Joplin, and I don’t want to hear about the fact that offsetting budget cuts have to come first before New Jersey citizens are taken care of.”
While I do applaud that both Romney and Christie are now singing the praises of FEMA, I just wish it this realization came before their own personal political fortunes were affected. We all know their love of FEMA is ephemeral, by the time the next disaster rolls around, perhaps this time when their political outlooks are more secure, or when it doesn't directly affect their constituents, we all know they will be out there railing against FEMA yet once again. Everyone is a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" conservative, right up until the time they need the government to rescue them. The hypocrisy is amazing, and the amnesia of the electorate each and every time this happens is nothing less than astounding. I keep asking myself how we let politicians get away with saying such things, and then turning around and saying completely the opposite thing the next day. But I realize it's because we let them. There seems to be absolutely no penalty for such things any more. Just business as usual.